M as in Monkey

Boehmcke.

If you are like most human beings on the planet you have no idea how to pronounce my last name. I understand. Trust me. Listening to people butcher my last name for the last 26 years has not been a pleasant experience.

I admit having 4 consonants in a row really isn’t the best way to make a word. Hmck. I don’t know how you would even tell someone to pronounce that by itself. Saying it aloud sounds like you are trying to dislodge a hot dog from your esophagus.

Hmck.

HMCK!

So let me be clear, it is pronounced Bem-Key. Not Bomk. Not Boeemick. Not Bombchek

Don’t try to interpret what the letters might say. Don’t try and figure it out. Just trust me; it is pronounced Bem-Key.

My whole life people trying to pronounce my last name have failed to do so successfully. I can count on 2 hands how many times a stranger got it right on the first try.

In fact I have come to expect people to misspell my last name as well. Like when I have to visit my corporate partners for work. I will have to show my I.D. at the front desk to get a visitor pass which will usually have a letter or two out of place. So you can imagine my surprise when I handed my license to the guy last week, my license that says RICHARD BOEHMCKE on it and got back this pass:


Really? I mean that’s kind of like running a whole marathon and then tripping over your own feet at the finish line. I actually had a flashback to another incident of being called Robert. Did this guy actually think Robert just sounded better?

If I hand people a business card or something with my last name on it, they ask me how it’s pronounced. And I will tell them. But I can only imagine what they are thinking as they try to reconcile what I’ve told them with the letters they see in front of their face.

Where the hell are the vowels?

It is like telling somebody to drive a car where turning the wheel right makes the car go left and stepping on the gas makes the car stop. People seem to want to believe me but they struggle to make it work.

Growing up in my house my family knew if the person calling the house for my Dad was a telemarketer,

Hi is Fred Bocheckey home.

Or even better

Hi is Fred Boe… Fred Bohe… Hi is Fred home?

For as long as I can remember, my mother spelled out our last name over the phone like this:

B as in boy, O-E-H, M as in Mary, C-K-E.

I repeated the same format when reciting my name over the phone to people collecting my information. But when I got out of college I realized I didn’t want people equating “M as in Mary” with myself. My personal emasculating misgivings aside I thought I could come up with a better word.

So at my last job with my 26 letter email address I started saying “M as in Monkey.”

I think its funny because ya know, who doesn’t like a Monkey? Who doesn’t like a Boehmcke?

Don’t answer that.

When I was in Kindergarten I remember thinking about marriage (I was a romantic 5 year old) and trying to figure out which girls’ first name would go well with Boehmcke. I didn’t think anything sounded good with Boehmcke.

Melissa Boehmcke? Nah.

Jessica Boehmcke? Don’t think so.

Finally my 5 year old self settled on the idea that I would have to take my wife’s last name. As far as I was concerned, no woman was going to want to take Boehmcke. It just wasn’t cool. And if I wanted to get married; I would have to change my last name.

These days, it has become a running joke amongst my friends that in order to have a woman take my last name upon marriage (assuming my fiancé wants to marry me, assuming I find a fiancé, assuming… well, you get the point) that this woman would have to have a last name way more challenging than mine, a name she really had to change. Somebody like

Ellen Poocrapskie

Or

Katie Racist

I mean the only names that seem to work with Boehmcke are the ones of my mother, sister and aunt. So unless I find a Dana, Felice, or Grace who wants to marry me it’s going to be tough.

And there just aren’t very many girls named Fred.

It wasn’t that I didn’t like my last name as a kid, I liked it fine. I just knew it was a burden for some people. And hearing your “friends” refer to you as Bojaflemkey doesn’t necessarily make you feel good about yourself.

I thought it was just because at that age people weren’t worldly enough to learn how to pronounce my last name, or hadn’t yet perfected speaking English. I thought this would change later in life.

But no, people have really just given up entirely. Like the office visit I went on last year. I received this gem of a nametag.


Bighard? BIGHARD? What the heck is that? It sounds like the name of an adult film star. I understand I don’t talk about my job very much, but I think it’s unfair to just assume… well, ya know?

And as for Boemivigre I mean, I don’t know what to say. It sounds like it could mean a vigorous lifestyle of being bohemian maybe?

It almost looked like one of those instances when you start typing but you don’t realize all of your fingers are just one off to the right and you type a sentence that looks like this

O fpn’y yhink hr voulf hsbr

And then you spend the next 5 minutes trying to figure out how the hell you typed something so strange.

The guy probably just thought, ya know what, I can’t pronounce this, so it doesn’t matter what the hell it says.

But I learned at some point in high school that the German pronunciation of my last name sounded like Boomka. And so Boomka was born.

Some of my very close friends call me that, and had it not been taken, that was going to be the original name of my website.

So I’ve become resigned to the fact that nobody will say my name right. And it doesn’t bother me anymore because I love my name. And one day I plan to be so successful that people will equate the name Boehmcke with brilliance and hilarity instead of just, pale skin and poor decision making.

One day people will look at my name and say, “Now THAT is a man of charm and class. He is a man of the highest caliber. His name brings to mind the utopian ideals of a society we wish to achieve. His name represents all we aspire to and all that we love. His name is the name by which we all wish to be known. His name is truly fantastic!”

And if all that doesn’t happen? Well… I guess I’ll just keep my eye out for Katie Racist.